Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday Japan should develop fighter jets domestically, following an agreement with the United States to purchase more than 100 F-35s.
The fighter jet would be the next generation aircraft modeled after the F-2, which is to be retired starting in the 2030s, NHK reported.
Abe made the remarks while meeting with lawmakers of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
“It is important Japan leads the development of the next generation of fighters,” Abe reportedly told politicians in Tokyo. “It is also important the planes have the ability to cooperate with U.S. aircraft.”
Japan agreed to the F-35 purchase as it seeks to defend itself from countries like North Korea and China.
Abe has previously told U.S. President Donald Trump acquiring high-performance weapons is important for Japan’s defense capabilities.
Japan has also purchased missile interceptor Aegis Ashore from the United States. The central government seeks to deploy the missile defense in Akita Prefecture, despite opposition from Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake.
Satake and local residents in Akita are opposing Aegis Ashore deployment after geographical data in survey documents was found to contain flaws. Asahi Shimbun reported earlier in the week government workers used free software Google Earth to make measurements of candidate sites, before selecting a military base near Akita city for $2 billion worth of military equipment.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya has apologized for the incident, Kyodo News reported Tuesday.
“We’re very sorry. It was inappropriate as the behavior lacked a sense of alertness in such an extremely important situation,” Iwaya said.
Satake has also complained about a defense ministry official who was napping during a briefing for Akita residents.
“It’s truly regrettable,” Satake said.